Note from the Editor: This is an article in a series called "Wethersfield Heroes," where our students work to highlight and honor those in our community going above and beyond amidst the tumultuous year. If you know someone that you would like to nominate as a Wethersfield Hero, please contact Mr. Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
by: Morgan Sargis
Katie Cognata is a 1st grade teacher from Hamner Elementary, and is teaching and supporting first graders through a pandemic. She is making sure everyone of her students is learning and stays engaged while also following the rules of COVID.
One of the questions I asked Mrs. Cognata was how did social distancing affect your teaching, and she said, “They need a lot more support, or just a hug, and finding other ways to give the kids the emotional support they need.”
What I remember from elementary school is totally different from what these kids are experiencing, they have to learn to be separated from each other, and right now they can't get that physical support, so it can be a challenge for them. Another question I asked her was how good her kids were with masks, since even some of the high schoolers don't even wear the mask right. Cognata said, “They were really good, I laugh because I think the kids are better with masks than some adults are sometimes. At the beginning we had mask breaks, but sometimes the masks were too big and would slip down, but they would pull it right back up.” With this answer she gave me I found so crazy how all these little kids can be so good at doing this one thing that keeps everyone safe, and are way better than some adults out there.
Another question I wanted to know was if she had any new routines in her classroom she had to do because of COVID, this was her response: “in 1st grade, we are trying to teach the kids to be independent, so in past years I would have kids take control of the lunch count, and a lot of materials were shared, and that's where it had to change since we can't share materials.”
One last question I had was how adjusting to virtual and hybrid teaching was difficult to adjust. ”It was definitely challenging, because with first graders, you can tell if they are losing attention and walk over, but working at home I can't do that, and there are more distractions at home. There are things I can control in the classroom, but not at home.” I could definitely relate to this question because I know when I was virtual, since I had my phone right next to me, and the teacher wasn't there to tell me to put my phone away, it would be such a distraction, and made me not do so well, so I know what these kids are feeling when virtual.
A big thank you to Katie Cognata for helping the students by putting in the work and adjusting to a whole new way of teaching that no one has ever experienced before, and making the most out of it. Katie is just one of the many teachers in Wethersfield Public Schools that are giving it their all and overall just being supportive with this crazy school year.
Written, edited, and produced by Wethersfield High School students, covering all news and events.